It seems unreal – 4 years, 4 wonderful years as part of DHS Madrigals – this incredible journey, possibly the most rewarding high-school experience for Manasi has finally come to an end. And what an end!! Going out as Madrigal Queen – a true reward for all the hard work, commitment and effort she has put in over the years! I remember that first year as if it was yesterday – her awe, her admiration of her Seniors – and now, coming full circle, holding center stage effortlessly, leading the group with grace, confidence and poise!
Once the King and Queen were announced in June, things moved quickly. They had their first meeting with Ms Reece to pick a script, and also select the Jester and Narrator. Manasi was also Section Leader for the Sopranos – and she hosted the first of the Madrigal meetings that summer – a Soprano team-building. A lovely tradition – all the girls painting or crafting a keepsake for a team-mate! Next came the Madrigal picnic organized by Queen Manasi and King FA. And this was all before school had even started!!
While Manasi and FA were busy learning their royal responsibilities, I was getting a head-start on something equally important – THE DRESS!!! Manasi’s Freshman dress was from Reece’s closet, and the next 2 years we had rented from Costume Trunk, but for her Senior year, Manasi had her heart set on getting her own dress. Surprisingly, even with the Madrigal tradition so strong in Central Illinois, there is not a single store to purchase these kind of dresses – of course, no need to worry when Amazon Prime is at your fingertips! Plenty of dresses available online – and where are they coming from, you may ask? China!! What I would do for a trip to Wedding Street right about now!!
Shipping time was almost 3 months – so glad we got a head-start on this. Believe me, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. We shortlisted 3 dresses – one a clear favorite, 2 more ‘just in case’. When the packages arrived, the favorite was very clearly not going to work – the fabric was dull, and not at all queenly. Even the 2 ‘just in cases’ didn’t really cut it – hazards of online shopping for clothes, what you get is often not what you expect. Slight panic now – so while figuring out if there was any way the dresses could be ‘enhanced’ – I went ahead and ordered 2 more dresses – one of these had been my favorite to begin with, but had been shot down by both Ajey and Manasi. These are the first 3 – can you guess which had been the favorite?
While we waited for the new dresses to arrive, Madrigal traditions kept rolling. Memorial Day, and time for the annual Madrigal volleyball hosted by the Queen! Reece provided the net, and we marked out a full-size court in our backyard. Manasi and her Sopranos dressed up as Minions – simple costume, but super cute! Dinner catered by Noodles & Co, with the kids bringing dessert and drinks. Plenty of laughs all around, with the Tenors finally taking the trophy for this year – and as much as I hate the stereotype, the girls really need a lot of work on their game – maybe next year they can get a real volleyball player to pinch-hit! Promptly at 9pm, Reece put an end to the partying – not before they had all pitched in to clean up!
Meanwhile, Monday rehearsals were in full swing – and while Manasi was concentrating on the most important activity of Madrigals – the actual singing – I was still worrying about the dress. I even drove her to Costume Trunk one time to check if they had something suitable – thinking worst-case scenario here – but no luck. The 2 additionally dresses finally arrived – and while Manasi refused to even try on one of them – the 2nd was deemed acceptable. Whew!! Not out of the woods, though – the fitting wasn’t great, and it did need some work. And then my awesome friends stepped in to help – first MG, whose dad did an awesome job with custom fitting! Then BH, adding beautiful lace sleeves, gold trim and buttons to completely elevate the look of the dress – truly a dress fit for a queen! And not to gloat or anything, but the dress that finally made the cut? – my first pick, so many months ago!
Next thing to be checked off the list – tickets!! As always, we had 6 tickets per night – and this time around, it simply wasn’t enough. Manasi and I worked overtime to get tickets sorted – and it wasn’t just buying the tickets – inviting people, confirming they could come, then hunting for tickets – it was a week of complete madness! At one point, I was dreaming of seat assignments, and who goes which day, and how I could swing the extra tickets! We wanted to invite so many people – my friends, Manasi’s friends, her music teachers, her ex-Madrigal friends – pretty much everyone who had contributed to her musical journey! In the end, it all worked out – in fact, we ended up with more tickets than we needed – so really, din’t really have to get so worked up about the tickets!
And then soon, too soon – it was the day of the Madrigal retreat – and the first full rehearsal with the Court Singers. This year, we also hosted a Parents social for all Madrigal and Court Singer parents – I’ve always wanted to get to know some of my fellow Madrigal parents a little better, and this was a great way to meet outside the school and socialize. There are few of us who have stayed the course all 4 years, and it was wonderful to see all the new faces as well! I do hope that this gets added to all the other Madrigal traditions – to reminisce about years past, and for new parents, to understand the parents’ role in bringing together this elaborate performance!
Madrigal Week – and the final touches to ‘Making of the Queen’! Nails first – and Liquid Glamour Nails did a fabulous job – perfectly matching the dress red, with a special crown nail art. The actual crown finally came home in a beautiful box – the lid signed by all previous queens who had worn it – what a special touch! My biggest worry was hair and make-up. Saturday was not a problem – plenty of time for Corpo Bello to spin their magic – but for the Thursday dress rehearsal and the Friday performance – it was all up to me! Yikes!! With the help of YouTube and a lot of luck – managed a half-way decent job – Manasi being the Queen was definitely a lot of pressure on me!! And maybe because of the pressure, we had managed to stay on top of things – and we didn’t have any last-minute crises going into that final week!
Friday afternoon – back in the Commons! Last time building the ‘Castle’ – transforming the lunch room to a stately medieval castle. I was Commons Committee chairman again – and by this time, Ajey and I were old pros! Everything went pretty smoothly – even the confounded golden canopy above the Head Table which had given us so much trouble last year! The kids were hard at work as usual building the Christmas trees – I found out this year that all the trees are named – and by tradition, the Queen works on the ‘Queen’ tree! Although it really is a huge endeavor – the end result is totally worth it – and it makes the absolute perfect setting for the kids to perform! This was the first year that we were watching both performances – so after the finishing touches to the Commons, I raced to change and then help Manasi dress before heading back into the Castle – this time as a guest!
It’s quite dim during the actual performance – so it is really great that Reece has pictures and a short dress rehearsal Saturday afternoon. Most of the video clips I took were from this rehearsal and so are my best pictures. Saturday night – last performance for Manasi and all the other Senior Madrigals. As expected, it was a very moving performance. As the first notes of ‘Silent Night’ filled the Castle, I could see Manasi tearing up, fighting to keep her composure – and when FA gave her his arm to lead her out, followed by the rest of the court, I have to admit, I had tears streaming down as well. Just like that, it’s done.
Without a doubt, this is something so very special – the bonds these kids form, the drive to perfection – I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – hats off to Reece for drawing out the very best in our kids, and showing us what they can achieve! This year, I was amazed at the leadership opportunities she provided for Manasi and FA – asking for their opinion, leaving the decisions to them, encouraging teamwork – in all aspects of the production. I do hope that she continues to get the support of the School Board and parents to keep this proud DHS tradition going. These memories, this music will surely last for a lifetime – make that 4 years of memories, and you can imagine how difficult it is going to be to leave this behind.
Luckily, there’s still lots of music to come – including a couple of Madrigal performances, not in full costume, of course! And the Winter concert, the Spring musical – and a whole season of Jazz!! So much to look forward to, even as we bid farewell to the Castle and Queen Manasi’s reign! Here’s to our final and best Madrigal season – Wassail!!
Read previous Madrigal posts here: A Madrigal Knight and One Perfect Moment. And enjoy a glimpse into the performance in this video!